BRIGHTON, ENGLAND — Divorce has become such an accepted part of life in Western society that it should come as no surprise that Europe has been holding divorce fairs. In 2007, an Austrian fair included exhibits by private detectives and firms giving paternity tests, among others. Now, Britain has decided to get into the act, albeit with a different style.
The Starting Over Show took place on March 15, from mid-morning to late afternoon, at the Old Ship Hotel in Brighton. Described by its website as “the first U.K. event to help people bounce back from relationship breakups and life crises”, the fair included a live band, a children’s play area, free photos, and more than 30 exhibits by mediators, debt counselors, collaborative lawyers, estate planners, therapists, dating agencies, and other professionals.
According to the website, StaringOverShow.co.uk, the fair was “awesome”.
“There are wedding fairs everywhere telling you how to tie the knot,” Suzy Miller, who organized the event, told the Associated Press, “but when people go through a divorce, they need more help, more support.” Miller added that the event focused on the positive aspects of ending a marriage and starting a new life.
“We created a safe haven in which you [could] take professional advice to build the confidence and skills you need to go it alone,” the website explains.
The Starting Over Show also featured psychics, lifestyle coaches, and ways to boost your income — including one company who offered a scheme to sell a healthier type of chocolate. The fair had sold more than 300 advance tickets at a fiver each, and exhibition stalls had cost as much as £1,600 (about $2,200 U.S.).
Great Britain has one of Europe’s highest divorce rates. 2001 statistics by the European Union found that 2.6 out of every 1,000 Britons were divorced, considerably higher than the continental average of 1.8. And the country has little in terms of welfare or tax benefits in marriage, which may affect the credibility of a marital commitment in the eyes of many couples, according to a report by the Centre for Policy Studies think tank from 2002.
There’s no word yet on the SOS website regarding the date of the next divorce fair.